The Napa River has been a source of agricultural bounty in the valley for hundreds of years, dating all the way back to the Wappo Native American tribes that used it’s tributaries as their water source. Modern viticulture has certainly benefited from the rich alluvial soils that are carried in its current year after year, providing a mixed gradient of robust soil into the various soil types that permeate the Napa Valley. Therefore the river has a wide-ranging influence wines that are made from grape varieties that are grown near its banks and influenced microclimates.
While there are already a few fine organizations that are working to restore, conserve or protect the river and its native habitats, we have yet to have come across a good survey of the terroir that is created by the river snaking down the valley. This Saturday 04/24/2010, we plan to change this with the very first Napa River Terroir Project. Andrew Lazorchak (Twitter) of VineyardVlog, visionary of and my partner in this caper, said it best:
“Our goal is to take a voyeuristic journey down the Napa River from Calistoga to Oakville. As you know the Napa river is an element of the valley that bears consequence on the “terroir“. We’d like to explore this artery of the valley, as we feel not much emphasis or discussion has been had about it with respect to terroir.”
As you can see from the map above, we are planning on making a number of stops during our 9 hour, roughly 10 mile kayak trip down the river. We will be stopping at a number of wineries along the way and we’re hoping to add more before we embark at 9am Saturday morning. Current stops include Tudal Winery (WineLog), Titus Vineyards (Twitter, WineLog), Crocker & Starr Wines and Round Pond Estate (Twitter, WineLog) and we thank these wineries for their participation!
Also participating in our harrowing inaugural journey will be Steve, The Lady, Seth Johnson (Twitter) and Jill (Twitter). But we invite any winery, person or gang of peeps to join us as we take photos, shoot video, tweet, Facebook, Foursquare and GPS our adventures as we learn about the Napa River Terroir. Much of this information will be gleaned through interviews with the vineyard managers of our gracious host wineries and vineyards listed above.
Not in town this weekend? Follow our tweets as we battle the elements in wine country!
If you would like to participate, contact me at the links above or in the footer of this post, below. We are also happy to encounter hecklers on bridges, in cars or even braving inner tubes. Also, watch this space for more information…this adventure is rapidly evolving! Our agenda will be posted soon. Cheers!
Topics/Questions that we’re interested in discussing:
- What are the varietals planted along the river?
- What is the soil profile along the river?
- How is the slope/ alluvial flood plain?
- How are yields effected along the river. Root vigor?
- Ripeness of varietals / fungus etc?
- Vineyard feeling on terroir. Is there an effect on the grapes? What is your terroir?
- What would you plant there now if you could plant anything?
- Stories about the river – everyone I have spoke to thus far has a story about the river and I think these will be the most valuable.
- How does the river affect your water table throughout the year?
- What are your conservation methods to preserve the river’s ecosystem?
- Are you a member of any of the conservation groups or conservation certifications in the county or state? Why or why not?